Emerging Technology

GADGET WATCH: Samsung Galaxy Gear

Patrick Stafford /

The Galaxy Gear certainly isn’t the first smartwatch on the block, but it’s gained the most attention for being the first entry from a massive electronics manufacturer, (and likely a move to beat Apple at its own rumoured watch).

But while the Galaxy Gear is first to market, is it actually worth buying? Reviewers have finally had a longer look at the watch, and have come up with a variety of interesting views…

Hardware and features

The Galaxy Gear features a 1.63 inch display, with a native 320×320 display at 277 PPI. The device Is also powered by a single-core 800 Mhz processor, along with 512MB of memory – and 4GB of on-board storage.

The device also features Bluetooth 4.0, along with a 1.9 megapixel camera in the watch band itself. The 315 mAh battery is said by Samsung to be capable of 25 hours of usage.

The watch also features an accelerometer, with gyroscope and gesture control.

What’s the consensus?

Over at The Verge, the publication noted that Samsung has taken a gamble by being the first with a new form factor. It also pointed out a sobering fact – the device only works with the Galaxy Note 3 and Note 10.1, which means your operational possibilities are limited.

As the publication notes, Samsung has a challenge here to not only create a compelling device but make it fashionable – not an easy feat.

“While it’s certainly well-built, the Galaxy Gear isn’t without its issues. The power button mounted on its right side sat loosely on my review unit, resulting in a clinking noise every time I moved the watch around.”

“The straps are also not interchangeable, so if you damage the one you have, the whole watch goes out of action — look to Sony’s SmartWatch for the nearest alternative that will give you the option to swap wristbands.”

However, it said the Gear feels “sturdy and reliable”, and even said the camera produces pictures of “surprising fidelity”.

“I never had to retake photos because of poor focus or exposure, and the ones I did shoot were supremely satisfying because of how little time and effort it took to capture them.”

Over at Gizmodo, the assessment wasn’t as positive. It said the watch was uncomfortable to wear, and noted that the speaker on the device was worse than the poor-performing microphone.

“Also, when I went for a run with it on and got just a little sweaty (really, it was a light sweat at most), it sounded like the speaker was underwater, which doesn’t even make sense, since the speaker grill is facing away from your hand.”

However, the biggest component of the watch is the software. Gizmodo said while most of the software was “great”, the watch itself just doesn’t do a lot yet.

Skipping tracks, adjusting volume and some apps were very good, it said, but the device ultimately “feels like a beta product”.

At Engadget, the publication also criticised the Gear Manager app used to control various aspects of the watch itself, saying it was too cumbersome.

“Ultimately, your enjoyment of the Gear’s UX depends on your feelings toward swipe gestures — this is your primary means of navigating the watch,” it said.

“It’s easy enough to flip through the various apps at your disposal, but it can also be rather tiresome doing it on a screen that’s attached to your wrist.”

Who’s it for?

By all accounts the Galaxy Gear is a solid first effort. It’s not perfect, but it’s functional enough that die-hard fans will probably get a kick out of it.

Don’t rush out and by this, unless you’re really keen. But keep an eye on this form factor, because before too long, Samsung will come out with a better version – and that’s when things might start heating up.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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